Nielsen: Digital Transition Readiness Soars

tvwatchersThe Obama administration's push to delay the digital transition by five months appears to be yielding its desired effect--even exceeding expectations. Based on estimates from new data, just 1.2% of homes will be unprepared in June.

Nielsen figures show that 3.6%--4.1 million--of the 114.5 million U.S. TV homes are currently not ready for the switchover. That's a decline by 916,000 homes over the past month.

At that rate, the unprepared level would continue to fall to 1.37 million homes (or even slightly less) by the June 12 mandated switchover date, marking 1.2% of homes that would lose reception.

If the transition had occurred as planned on Feb. 17, figures show that 4.4% of homes would have lost been without service.

The group that has improved the most has been younger TV homes, where the head of the household is 35 or under--those homes now just 6.5% unprepared. (That group was at 7.2%). Still, those younger households--and African-American TV homes, at a 6.6% number--are still lagging other demographics.

Older TV homes with viewers 55-plus continue to be the best-prepared--just 2%. White American homes are at 2.9%, Hispanic TV homes are at 6.1%, and Asian homes are at 4.4%. For Hispanic homes--which have had a higher rate of unpreparedness compared to the general population-- estimates call for 2.2% to be unready in June, if the number of unready homes continues the rate of decline it has had over the past month.

One possible reason the unprepared rate has accelerated is that many stations have already dropped analogue transmission, forcing homes that lost reception to take action.

The small number that may not be ready in June would seem to be below projections, causing only minor declines in ratings at stations and networks.

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